Frances Elizabeth Pratt was born May 25, 1913, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the third daughter of Francis Everett Pratt (b. 1871) & Elizabeth Linebaugh Wheeler Pratt (1874-1969).

She studied art at the New York School of Applied Design for Women, going on to the Art Students League and the Hans Hoffman School. She began exhibiting her work in 1941.

She married artist Chris Ritter (1908-1976) in December 1941. That marriage ended in divorce, and she subsequently married Bumpei Usui (1898-1994), a noted Japanese-American painter, after which her name also sometimes appeared as “Frances Pratt Usui” and “Frances Elizabeth Usui.”

She published Encaustic Materials and Methods, with co-author Becca Fizell, in 1949. She later published several notable texts in the fields of pre-Columbian art, often in collaboration with Carlo T.E. Gay. She also collected extensively in this area.

She died in New York City on May 2, 2003, a few weeks before her 90th birthday.

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Click here for an expanded biographical sketch by Virginia Howard, Pratt's great-niece.

Click here for a selection of facsimile reproductions of biographical materials prepared by Pratt herself, annotated by Randal Davis.

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